Amber Semi tapes out its AC-DC silicon

Amber Semi tapes out its AC-DC silicon

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Amber Semiconductor has taped out its first silicon for its AC Direct DC Enabler technology that extracts DC directly from AC mains without the use of transformers, rectifier bridges, or filtering.

This marks the start of the commercialisation stage for the California startup, integrating one of its three core patented technologies with a power capability of of 5W in a volume of 1.66 cm3 (0.18 in3) for software configurable power systems.

The AC Direct DC Enabler silicon enables dynamic delivery of DC power on demand, and it requires only half the components of today’s systems. This enables more capabilities and features to be added into electrical endpoints without altering the standard footprints of products.

The chip has three output voltage rails, two that are fixed at 3.3V and 5V and a final that is configurable from 1.8V to 24V DC and up to 5W of power. Configuration of voltages, load current, and status monitoring of protection thresholds for current, voltage and temperature operating parameters are determined by control bits within the register file, held in non-volatile memory.  

This provides primary power supply or housekeeping power for a wide range of products and technologies such as smoke detectors, doorbell cameras, thermostats, smart products, appliances and intelligent HVACR. The chip can also be paired with microcontrollers and wireless radios for both housekeeping power plus outside sensor power provisioning from the single AC Direct system as a route to further integration.

The dynamic power delivery capability under software control enables configurable output voltage ranges with automated mode switching to optimize efficiency for all power outputs. The lower component count reduces electrical and thermal stress of critical components as well as the overall system cost.

 “Achieving tapeout is a key commercialization milestone for our breakthroughs that is not just important for AmberSemi, but also for our strategic partners and the industry as a whole, signaling a new era of solid-state electrification, a second electrical revolution of digital management of electricity,” said Thar Casey, CEO of Amber Semiconductor.

“Our progress into commercialization of our technologies is built upon a foundation of requirements defined and refined in conjunction with our strategic partners and over 30 successful technical evaluations with customers both in the US and in Europe. These large companies have fully validated the use of AmberSemi’s technologies in discrete architecture, clearing the way to our manufacturing path in silicon,” he added.

The AC Direct DC Enabler is specifically in the switching regulator market, which surpassed $10 billion in market value worldwide in 2022 with over 25 billion units shipped. The switching regulator market is nearly half of the $23bn worldwide power management category, which shipped nearly 80bn units worldwide in 2022. This power management category is expected to grow to $25bn by 2025 according to figures from WSTS

“With an objective to innovate the electrical components industry by utilizing smaller-sized silicon chips and replacing the legacy electromechanical architecture that has been a cornerstone of modern innovation for over 50 years, AmberSemi has positioned itself to play a pivotal intermediary role in the process of modernizing the power delivered to end users,” said Mark Vena, CEO and Principal Analyst at SmartTech Research.

“Upgrading the electrical grid by addressing the core value propositions of convenience, comfort, energy management, and automation, while reducing costs and easing integration, has the global potential to be a massive technological upgrade event.”

Engineering samples will be available for customer demo testing later in 2023 into the start of 2024 and the company is currently working with strategic customers to conduct ongoing evaluations of the technology under non-disclosure agreements.

AmberSemi will also be showcasing its AC Direct DC Enabler technology and other technologies at APEC in Orlando, Florida, next week.


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